Uncertainty has momentarily struck the WiFi market with Brocade’s IP networking business being up for grabs, but analysts think Ruckus customers shouldn’t be as concerned as some of its competitors claim.
This disruption comes as Broadcom acquires Brocade for $5.9 billion, saying it will divest in the company’s IP business, which includes Ruckus, the wireless LAN vendor that Brocade acquired earlier this year.
Established wireless vendors are hoping to use this uncertainty to pick up Ruckus customers that are concerned about where they will buy their wireless equipment. Vendors see this as an opportunity to take market share from an established competitor, and while some of this is justified, there is also a bit of wishful thinking going on, says Mike Fratto, research director of business technology and software with Current Analysis.
“In the short-term, the impact is big. But in the long-term, it won’t have a ton of impact,” Fratto says. “Short term, wireless vendors can take advantage of that uncertainty, but the chances of Ruckus just going away are really, really small. Current customers or potential customers shouldn’t have any concern about losing out of equipment deals.”
However, where Ruckus was really making inroads was with managed service providers (MSPs), so the market will start seeing more wireless vendors targeting these customers.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” says Norman Rice, executive vice president of global marketing, supply chain, and corporate development with Extreme Networks. “Why would you buy an investment in technology when the company who owns it says they want to get rid of it?”
One of Ruckus’ channel partners told CRN he or she was bewildered and confused by what’s happening with the company “so for us, it’s perfect because we are a solid company and were effectively handed a gift, which was market disruption and a confused competitor,” Rice says.
Similarly, Xirrus CEO Shane Buckley claims his company has acquired a lot of new customers lately, including Ruckus customers.
“There are so many questions in the minds of the customers,” Buckley says. “They feel exposed and want a provider that has a very clear direction.”
There may be reason for these vendors to get excited about this market disruption, but it’s a short-term thing, as Fratto says, and there’s still heavy competition in the market from companies like Cisco, Juniper, and IBM.
“There’s no reason to panic. Ruckus or Brocade can’t say anything right now because they don’t have a set plan in place, and the deal hasn’t closed yet,” Fratto says. “History shows that there will be a plan to make sure that the business still operates, and I would be incredibly shocked if that wasn’t the case.”
WLAN Market Potential
“What’s going to happen to Ruckus is uncertain, and I’m sure someone will pick them up,” says Peter Christy, an analyst with 451 Research. “But it’s the classic scenario to capitalize on the fear and uncertainty this situation presents, and I’m sure Brocade and Ruckus recognize this.”
Christy also notes that whoever does pick up Brocade’s IP networking business will be in a good position to capture new markets in wireless networking like 5G, cloud managed WiFi, and software-defined networking (SDN).
There is clear evolution toward cloud-managed WiFi, which provides more predictable coverage and management. If it weren’t for these changes in the wireless market, not many companies would want the Ruckus business in such a competitive market, Christy says.
Both Extreme and Xirrus are offering cloud-managed WiFi in addition to services on top of that.
For example, for Extreme’s retail customers, the company offers an HD camera that is built into the its WiFi access points for security purposes and to monitor how quickly products move through its warehouse. It also uses analytics on access points to gauge how effectively its resources are being used and can manage how much connectivity it supplies to specific customers.
Similarly, Xirrus uses its cloud-managed WiFi to gain information and analytics from its access points, which it can graphically present to its customers. The company also claims that its software is built to operate in SDN-like environments.